Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The workplace has changed dramatically since the 2020 Covid pandemic. More and more employers are offering employees the opportunity to work remotely, allowing them more flexibility. Are employees still making the connections they need with their co-workers? This article dives into remote employee connection and its effect on the workplace.

What Is Remote Employee Connection?

Remote employee connection refers to remote employees’ feeling of connection toward co-workers, both other remote employees and employees working in the office.

Why Is Remote Employee Connection Important?

Studies have shown many benefits to employees feeling connected to each other. According to one study, 58% of employees cite better physical health and 55% of employees cite better emotional well-being when part of a company that promotes employee connectedness. This connection is important for both employees and employers. It helps create a better work environment and allows for more productive work.

Importance for Employees

Remote work provides a lot of flexibility for employees, which is why it has become more and more important. However, remote employees still  need connection with their employees and their company, even if they don’t get in-person interactions. Here are a few reasons why this connection is important for remote employees.

  • Human interaction. The most basic human need is to interact with other humans. This helps develop empathy for others and find those with similar interests. Connection allows employees to get to know each other on a personal level. Many remote employees have little in-person human interaction outside of the people living in their home. These people can get lonely and long for human interaction if it’s not made a point of emphasis.
  • Networking. Connecting with other employees can also help on a professional level. It allows an employee to widen their social network, which can be beneficial for finding mentors, jobs, or helping others find jobs. Networking often comes from connections made with other remote employees.
  • Career growth. Remote employees might feel they are missing out on job advancement opportunities by not being in the office. They may worry if they are out of sight, they are out of mind. If remote employees want opportunities for job advancement and career growth, they can’t do it without connection to the company. When it’s time for promotions, if a manager only knows what you have accomplished and not who you are, they will have a harder time promoting you.

Importance for Companies

Companies should also place an emphasis on connection for their remote employees as remote work has become a bigger part of the workforce. There are many company benefits from remote employees feeling connected. Here are a few of those benefits.

  • Culture. Employee connection is the core of good company culture. This includes remote employee connection. A sign of good culture is when remote employees who aren’t around their co-workers everyday feel connected to their co-workers. When there is a conscious effort  to talk to and connect with each other and connect with one another, it creates a strong culture.
  • Productivity. Employees who feel connected are more productive. Employee productivity increases as they feel they are working towards a common goal. In fact, that connection has increased and led to more productivity since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
  • Creativity. Employees who feel connected with their co-workers are more willing to share than others that are not. This is important for remote employees as they miss out on “watercooler” talk or day-to-day workplace conversations that cultivate open sharing of ideas. Connected remote employees collaborate and learn from each other, which helps employee creativity.

The Challenges of Remote Employee Connection

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many companies were left scrambling to figure out how to continue running without being able to work in-office. There were concerns about productivity and company culture deteriorating. While remote work has become more of a norm since, alleviating some concerns regarding productivity and company culture, there are still challenges that remote employees face when it comes to connecting with co-workers. Here are some of those challenges.

Social Isolation

With technology, employees can get in touch with their co-workers quickly, making remote work possible. However, isolation still happens. Outside of scheduled work meetings, if a remote employee doesn’t make the effort to socialize with other co-workers, they won’t have the opportunity. They can’t talk to their co-worker at the desk next to them or pass other co-workers in the lunchroom. Due to the lack of natural work interactions, employees can feel isolated.

Less Interaction Between Teams and Departments

Working remotely typically involves regularly scheduled meetings with the team and occasional meetings with other teams to collaborate on projects. However, due to the minimal interactions with other teams and departments, it can be hard for remote employees to connect and get to know other departments/teams. This can cause issues when teams work together as there is no prior rapport.

Lower Leadership Acknowledgement

The executive team must be aware of the entire company and its employees. Depending on the size of the company, this can be difficult. Employees working remotely can lead to executives not working or interacting with most employees due to the nature of their jobs and how busy their schedules can be. Rubbing shoulders with the executives as you pass them in the office is not available, making it hard for executives to know the impact each employee has on the company.

Signs of Remote Employees Connection

With remote work being more prevalent in the workplace, it is important for companies to be aware of their employees and  recognize if their remote employees feel connected. Here are a few signs to look for.

Team Communication

One sign to look for to see if employees feel connected is how they communicate with each other. What is their tone in emails? Are deadlines made? Does the team have good rapport? These are questions to consider to ensure that remote employees are feeling connected.

Connection Outside of Work

Spending time together outside of work is not something every remote employee will do even if they feel connected. However, employees who go out of their way to spend time with co-workers in their personal time are employees who feel connected and want to deepen that connection. This might not be possible for remote employees who live in different states, but will be more common for employees who live closer to each other.

Interactions at Work Events

This seems obvious, but it is still important to acknowledge. When remote employees attend a work event, how do they interact with their co-workers? Remote employees who feel connected will feel more comfortable and willing to interact with co-workers than disconnected employees. This is the easiest way to see if personal connections exist.

Tips for Keeping Remote Employees Connected

Now that the importance and challenges of remote employee connection have been discussed, what are some ways companies can ensure remote employees stay connected? Here are a few tips to implement for your own team.

Tip 1: Encourage Connections and Friendships

You can’t force employees to spend time together or even like each other. However, creating an environment where people feel comfortable sharing and talking about their personal life can go a long way. This can be done during team meetings when a manager gives employees time to share their plans for the weekend, how their week is going, or the manager talks about their own life so employees see this is ok during team meetings. Putting remote employees on the same project provides opportunities to collaborate and strengthen relationships.

Tip 2: Plan Virtual Meetings/Activities

Planning meetings or activities for employees to talk about non-work related topics allows employees to get to know each other. Setting this time aside helps remote employees connect with co-workers in a way they normally wouldn’t. They can make memories and have fun, whether by hosting happy hour where everyone brings their own drink, or playing a game together. These are great ways for remote employees to feel connected.

Tip 3: Wellness Challenges

Wellness programs are one of the best ways to keep remote employees feeling connected. Wellness challenges can be done on a monthly basis. This promotes both social and physical health while allowing employees to have fun competing with each other. This can be great for remote employees who are introverted, as they can get a sense of belonging without needing to talk to everyone. It provides an opportunity for employees to connect with other employees and with the company as a whole.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Remote Employee Connection

Yes, but it doesn’t matter if an employee is a remote employee or not. Employees who feel connected with their co-workers are more productive. 

Responsibility falls on both the employer and the employee. The employer should create opportunities for employees to connect with other employees. However, if an employee doesn’t make an effort to connect with other employees, then it won’t happen regardless of the employer’s efforts. 

Tanner has over 4 years of HR professional experience in various fields of HR. He has experience in hiring, recruiting, employment law, unemployment, onboarding, outboarding, and training to name a few. Most of his experience comes from working in the Professional Employer and Staffing Industries. He has a passion for putting people in the best position to succeed and really tries to understand the different backgrounds people come from.

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